Feeling unhappy that your spouse/boyfriend didn’t react as you expected? Or the kids didn’t select the course/school you wanted them to?
These types of feelings are very common in our lives when we are unhappy because someone else did something. It never crosses our minds that it’s not in our hands what other people do or feel. And what isn’t in our control, shouldn’t bother us, right?
Wrong! Our whole life we are so much affected by other people doing or not doing for that matter, that we forget what we can do ourselves to make us happy. We never focus on ourselves, our inner feelings, our small joys. How many times does it happen that we choose a movie which our spouse or children like? We end up watching it although we don’t enjoy it. This doesn’t mean that we become selfish and don’t think about others. Humans are designed to be emphatic and compassionate towards others, especially to those who are close to us.
But still, it's very much important to know where our happiness lies. In our quest to please everyone we often forget what makes us happy. This bottled up feeling one day erupts and washes everything away with it.
We are left high and dry because we expected others to feel the same way or at least reciprocate our love and attention.
The problem arises when we don’t get back as much as we gave away. It’s only natural that we expect others to feel the same way we feel. How many times have you wondered “I did so much for him/her still got nothing in return”?
This expectation is what creates the biggest problem in everyone’s life. When we are not taking responsibility for our own happiness, we expect others to take it. But when that other person fails to do so, we become angry and frustrated.
If only we understand that our happiness lies in our own hands it’ll be a lot easier.
No doubt that humans are social creatures and in a society, everyone has to think about others’ comfort and happiness, but in between carrying out our duties for others, we have to remember our biggest duty is towards ourselves.
So, the big question is how do we keep ourselves happy? Over the years I have committed the same mistake of ignoring my own happiness and emotions. And believe me, I paid a big price for it. But then I took matters into my hands and came up with some fun ways to be happy in my life without depending on anyone else.
Here, I list a few ways which I found useful to keep my mind distracted and happy.
1. Cultivate a Hobby
Everyone is passionate about doing something in their free time. Some like to paint, others read a book while a few love to cook different cuisines. Whatever it is you are passionate about or have an interest in, do take out time to cultivate and hone it. Although hobby is understood to be something we do in our free time, it’s important that we take out time for our interest and not the other way round. Every day take out at least half an hour and do what you like. Select a convenient time and stick to it.
When we spend time doing something we are passionate about, our heart feels happy. We tend to excel too in our choice and that boosts our confidence.
I like to read, write and listen to music. So I take out time every day and according to my mood choose any one of these or if time permits, all of them.
2. Zero expectations
This is very important that we don’t keep any expectations from others. Half of our problems will be solved if we stop expecting happiness from others. Just behave with everyone like you would expect others to behave with you and then forget about it. Keep on thinking that I did so and so for that person but what did he/she do to me? This isn’t going to help. It has happened many times when I confronted someone that I helped you the other day and you are behaving like this now. The apt reply came often that “Did we ask for your help?”.
Then slowly I realized that whatever we feel about others and want to do for them is totally and purely our own feeling. It may or may not be mutual. So gradually I started erasing from my memory what I had done for others. Instead, I always remembered what others did for me. This has brought about calm and peace in my heart.
3. Start giving importance to your own Emotions
Often we neglect our emotions or are not aware of them. Many times it happens that for the sake of others we hide our emotions. This is ok if done occasionally but if it's a regular occurrence then chances are that you will feel unhappy and frustrated.
I wasn’t aware of my own emotions for a long time. Then one day, a friend told me about the EQ test. I took the test and was shocked to see my report. It was a very poor report and according to it, I lacked severely in the emotional department. Neither did I recognize my own emotions nor others. This always resulted in me misjudging people and their intentions. Often leaving me sad and frustrated. At last, I figured what I was lacking in understanding others my whole life.
Immediately, I started an exercise recommended by the counsellor every day. It involves writing down my various emotions throughout the day. I made a table as shown in this figure:
So once you start writing down What, How, Why and What you were expecting instead about your emotions, you’ll become more familiar with your emotions and their causes. Then after this discovery, it’s easier to manage our feelings and emotions. This is called ‘Giving Importance to our Emotions’.
Believe me, this has helped me a lot in discovering my true behaviour and feelings and also a better judge of others.
4. Learn to say NO
Yes, it's very important to say No sometimes. We often say Yes to others even though we don’t want to do something for various reasons: not hurting others’ feeling, avoiding an argument, not wanting to look incapable etc.
But it’s important to understand our feelings and limitations. If we say yes and do the job half-heartedly, we won’t be able to give our best performance. Moreover, our close ones will never get to know our true feeling and it’ll create misunderstandings in relations.
Over time, the load becomes so big that we snap. Then it becomes too late to manage. So better understand your inner self and don’t do everything just for the sake of others.
5. Listen to Music
From time immemorial, mankind has indulged in some sort of music and dance. And it has a reason for it. Music has the power to soothe our soul. Whatever our mood is, we can always find suitable music. Make different playlists with songs in various moods like Romantic, sad, break up, folk, patriotic, slow, fast, spiritual etc. Listen to this playlist while doing your chores or in your free time which enables you to switch between emotions. It’ll have a magical effect in soothing and calming your nerves. Its main aim is that we recognize each emotion and can easily switch between them in real life too.
6. Be appreciative of yourself
It’s very easy to become critical of ourselves. I remember reading about a real-life experiment where an artist drew portraits of various people based on the description of their own appearance and then by some stranger who was allowed to look at them for a few minutes. Each and every time, the picture he drew according to the person’s own description was sad and less beautiful than the description given by a total stranger. This shows that we all are very critical of our looks and behaviour.
Over time, our self-esteem becomes low and we start feeling sad and unhappy for everything about us. This results in a loss of self-confidence which further contributes to other’s perception of us. Remember that you are unique and have special abilities and talents which others don’t have. Maybe you just don’t know about it. Feel confident about yourself and your thought process.
This confidence will work wonders for your life. You’ll start feeling vibrant and joyful and that glow will come on your face naturally for which you were ready to spend a million bucks.
7. Exercise regularly
Exercising or living healthy means that we love ourselves and our bodies and want to take care of them. A healthy body is very important for a healthy mind. When we exercise, special hormones flood our system which makes us happy. Also as a result of a workout when we get a fit body, we feel more confident and happy about ourselves.
Researches too prove that for a relaxed and happy mind it’s very important to have a healthy and fit body.
8. Enjoy your own company
By company, we mean that there should be someone to whom we can talk or spend time with. But we forget that even we can be a good company for ourselves. After all, we know ourselves best and what makes us happy. So, once in a while take out time and go out alone. The locations don’t matter, just learn to enjoy your alone time. You’ll be surprised to see the things in your everyday route or places you visited before which you never saw. This is because then you were with someone so didn’t pay much attention to the surroundings. When we are alone, we tend to study the surroundings and people better.
It also serves as a time for self-reflection. Many times we don’t understand our mistake but later, on reflecting, we realize that we could’ve handled the situation differently and in a better way. This alone me time is great for this. Take out time weekly or daily as suitable and just go for a walk. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you will enjoy this.
So, these are some of the ways I try to find happiness without relying on anyone else. Everyone can have their own ways to remain happy and fulfilled. This life is very precious and we get it only once, so don’t waste it on petty things and learn to enjoy and be happy in every circumstance.
But there’s a fine line between finding our happiness and being selfish. That balance we have to establish where neither we nor our loved ones take us to be selfish. Believe me, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. It’s very easy when you realize that it’s important to be happy with yourself and content with life.
So, what are you waiting for? Take control of your happiness now and enjoy a fulfilled and blessed life.
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